Shaping human interactions through connected objects
Time frame: 10 weeks | 2 days a week | 2016
Connecting on a social level, whether through ‘social media’ or a simple text message, has been made possible by the increased use of the Internet and such products as the smartphone. Yet these objects lack a kind of tangibility often present with social interaction: interaction is semantic and limited to graphical user interfaces. Messages heap up in the shape of ‘notifications’. Some products try to bring a change to this. These products that aim to link social data to the materiality of objects and spaces, are called Socially Tangible Media (STM).
This project consisted of two main design challenges. The first a pressure cooker style assignment in which we each had to choose a target group and a company to design for. I chose bachelor students and the Salvation Army. The purpose was to design an STM which would create a meaningful connection between these two parties. With the use of a practice approach, we use practices, our activities that are socially recognizable, as a unit for design. This helps us identify the parts, and understand the intricacies of the bigger topic that we are designing for.
For my first challenge I aimed to connect a common students' practice with the purpose of the Salvation Army to help the underprivileged. My most important insights were (1) while people have sympathy for the homeless, they rarely experience empathy and (2) a means of transport could provide homeless with a sense of freedom. I used the practice of students to stall their bikes over the weekend as an opportunity to provide homeless people with a means of transportation.
For the second design challenge we had more time for user research. The assignment was to uncover practices within our own design faculty. I used this opportunity to do observations and interviews with the faculty cleaning staff. I noticed how they work extremely hard under a lot of pressure, while barely receiving appreciation for their work. This triggered me to develop an STM which would increase students' and staff's respect for the cleaning personnel.
The concept I came up with is a connected doormat placed at different locations in the faculty. This doormat connects entering the physical domain of a specific cleaning employee to entering the digital space of the faculty WiFi network. When students and staff log in on their computers they see a pop-up welcome message from a cleaning employee. This encourages them to get to know and respect the people who clean their daily work environment.
The concept of socially tangible media (STM) describes things which contain three features: social data, a physical object and a digital connection.
This poster shows the first concept I designed for this project: a smart bike lock which makes it possible for homeless people to access unused student bikes. This concept was the result of a pressure cooker assignment to develop an STM which would somehow connect The Salvation Army and bachelor students.
For the second assignment we had to focus on practices within our own faculty. I used this opportunity to do observations and interviews with the faculty cleaning staff.
This poster shows the concept I came up with: a connected doormat placed at different locations in the faculty. This doormat connects entering the physical domain of a specific cleaning employee to entering the digital space of the faculty WiFi network.